Predicaments and Language Concepts

April 25, 2014
A few weeks ago, in a post I wrote how we used Robert’s anxious asking for his hat to introduce to him a concept of importance of things. During our trip to North Carolina and back, we had three more occasions to use our predicaments to advance our son’s understanding of language and practice his speech.
For a long time we treated Robert’s obsessive, repetitive questions or statements he kept uttering during our car travels as rather hard to deal with. We tried to ignore them, dismiss them, ignore them, dismiss them… The process left us exhausted and irritated.
Until one day, we finally noticed, that those questions and/or statements gave us an opportunity to involve Robert in a dialogue.
If Robert didn’t have a problem, he didn’t bother to talk. When, however, Robert was in quandary, he tried alert us to it and demanded solution. Hence, he talked.
The fact that he started by repeating the same word or phrase may times, was not important. After all, his words gave us an opening, and to some degree we could expand the dialogue, enticing Robert to continue with another word or phrase.
1. When we picked up Robert on Saturday after the program, he had his backpack with him. It was Robert’s experience that backpack was always first returned home. Only after returning the backpack, the family could drive to New York. Robert kept repeating, “Home, home.” and “Bag, bag.”
It took us a while to understand the connection between “Home” and “Bag” . When we did, we could shape a dialogue, first feeding Robert with appropriate responses. “We bring backpack home when we return from North Carolina” – This is a sentence that explained what would happen, but it was too long for Robert to repeat. we had to think about simpler alternatives. For instance:
“Bag, bag”
“What about Bag?”
“Yes, we will bring backpack home after the trip”
What about bag?”
“when we bring backpack home? ”
“After the trip”
Robert practiced this and similar language structures throughout most of our drive to New York City.
Our attitudes toward Robert’s obsessive asking changed dramatically, as now, we considered it a great opportunity for therapy and felt great that Robert participated willingly.
2.On a way from New York City to Durham, Robert was bothered by the fact that we left his pillow and comforter in his grandmother’s apartment. He believed we should take it with us to a hotel. That resulted in another a few hours long language therapy session. It started with Robert repeating just one word, “bed” while he had in mind pillow and comforter. (bed is much easier to say).
“Bed, bed, bed.”
Do you mean, ‘bed or pillow”?”
Where is the pillow?”
“In New York”.
“where is the blanket? ”
“In New York”
“Yes, In grandma place. Pillow and blanket are in grandma’s place.
so, Where is your pillow?”
“In grandma house.”
We repeated this and similar dialogue that included a few calming sentences about picking pillow and blanket on our way back.
Every time Robert asked, we built it into a dialogue. By the time we passed Baltimore, Robert had enough, and asked for his IPAD.
3.Another quandary presented itself on a way from New York City to Boston. Since this time we were driving with Robert’s grandmother, at first we tried to spare her from listening to our boring dialogues. So we tried to ignore, to dismiss, to ignore, to dismiss Robert’s efforts to deal with his problem.
Finally, we gave up.
“Grandma, grandma.”
“What about grandma?
“New York”
“Yes, grandma lives in New York. Today she goes to Norwood with us.
“Grandma, grandma.”
“What about grandma?”
Yes, she comes to Norwood with us.
“Grandma, Grandma”
“where does she live?”
“New York”.
“start with she, and tell me again.”
“she lives in New York.”
Where does she go now? ”

Quandary solved.

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